Netgear has announced the availability of the Digital Entertainer HD, the EVA8000, in North America.

The Digital Entertainer HD pips Apple's Apple TV out the door in claiming to be the most feature-rich media receiver on the market today for enabling consumers to stream digital content over their home networks to their high-definition home entertainment systems.

Similar in size to a standard DVD player, the unit which connects to the TV via HDMI supports open standards for streaming digital content from Windows as well as Mac computers, network storage devices, USB media devices, and from popular Internet sites including YouTube and Flickr.

Automatically discovering HD movies, TV shows, music files, and personal photos on a home network, across multiple computers, the Digital Entertainer HD promises to organise these into a single media library displayed on a TV without the need for media server software running on the computer.

The Digital Entertainer HD can play HD movie downloads, including those from BitTorrent’s new online marketplace in the US, as well as stream HD movies and Internet videos to their TV from websites such as YouTube.

Music lovers will also be able to access their iTunes and iPod libraries. The Digital Entertainer HD even plays Internet radio directly and can access RSS news feeds, weather and maps.

The Digital Entertainer HD is available now in North America through select e-commerce sites at an MSRP of $399. Netgear has said that it will be available in the UK before June this year.

Some commentators believe the Digital Entertainer could out sell Apple's offering, due to be on sale at the end of the month.

Glenn Derene from Forbes.com wrote, “Apple's iTV has grabbed the most headlines, but NETGEAR's Digital Entertainer HD is arguably the better box, streaming more video formats and even downloading video directly from YouTube”.